Between Paris and Washington, the hatchet is not yet buried, but progress has been made on the thorny issue of the “Gafa tax”. This Wednesday, in Davos, the French Minister of Economy, Bruno Le Maire, confirmed that “common global frameworkWas found with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. This agreement should allow French and American teams to discuss, in the coming weeks, in order to progress towards a final agreement for the taxation of digital companies, at the OECD level.
In detail, the agreement reached has three points. First, France “is ready to postpone the payment of digital tax installments to December 2020“. In other words, the “Gafa taxIs not withdrawn or even suspended, but payments will not be collected immediately. For their part, the Americans agreed to “suspend their sanctions, during the period during which France will postpone the payment of installments“. Finally, the two nations plan to use this time to “move towards a common goal“: International taxation.
Bruno Le Maire however refused to see this suspension of payments as a retreat on his part in the face of threats from the White House: “digital companies will pay their fair tax in 2020, either under the international regime, in the event of an OECD agreement, or under the national regime“Said the Minister. France “will not accept withdrawal or suspension of its digital business tax until there is an international solution to replace it“, He hammered. It is therefore not a renunciation, but a “deferred payment to negotiate in good conditions“.
The central objective of this lull was to avoid at all costs the unleashing of a “trade war“Between the two shores of the Atlantic:”once the trade war is declared, it does damage and it is difficult to get out of it“, Explained the boss of Bercy, who judged”wiser and more ambitious to give yourself a few months to find a solution“. “We will be able to work in serenity rather than working under the threat of sanctions“, He wanted to believe. A trade dispute would have “definitely killed“Negotiation, and would not have done”only losers“Said the Minister. For the time being, Donald Trump should therefore avoid imposing new customs duties to bend Brussels.
A call “decisiveBetween Trump and Macron Sunday evening
So there is still work, nuanced Bruno Le Maire, before an agreement is reached on the taxation of digital companies. “We want a credible, solid and fair solution“:”it remains to be seen on what basis of work we are advancing at the OECD“, did he declare. For example, France would not accept that taxation be done on a voluntary basis. The Minister will therefore meet again with his American counterpart tomorrow to discuss this “work base“. For Bruno Le Maire, however, the next American presidential elections – next November – should not interfere with this bargaining job.
Bruno Le Maire felt that this first step towards an agreement was mainly due to a few factors. First, the fact that “Europe remains united against the United States“And presents a determined common front:”we are united like never before, and I think this is great news“, He congratulated himself. Then, the long-term work between the Mnuchin and Le Maire teams allowed us to progress little by little. Finally, a call “decisive between Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron“, Sunday evening, allowed”calm the game to work in serene conditions“. It remains to be seen, however, whether discussions will continue in the same direction on Thursday.
The subject remains indeed explosive: Donald Trump has multiplied the vindictive declarations vis-à-vis Europe, indignant at a “Gafa taxWhich discriminated, according to him, the American digital giants. The Americans denounce this tax, both in its form and in its deep logic, and fight it ardently. “If we want to impose taxes arbitrarily on our digital businesses, then we will consider imposing taxes arbitrarily on automakers”, had threatened earlier today Steven Mnuchin, also present in Davos. The subject is all the more complex as the occupant of the Oval Office mixes digital taxation with the trade war that he threatens to start with Europe, in response to the trade surplus that the 28 derive from their trade with United States.
In recent days, the corridors of Davos have been the subject of heated discussions between several authorities on this subject. Sitting a few meters from Steven Mnuchin, British Finance Minister Sajid Javid said that the United Kingdom would continue to impose its tax on digital services, despite the threats of American sanctions. “It is a proportional tax and it is deliberately designed as a temporary tax, so it will disappear once there is an international solution“, He justified himself. European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen hoped that a trade agreement would be concluded between the United States and the Union “within a few weeks“, Which helps to ease the tensions between the two parties.
The Mayor defends a “third wayBetween Donald Trump and Greta Thunberg
During his press conference, the French Minister of Economy also praised the dynamism of France, which “resists well in the eurozone“: However, the success”must be for all French people, not just a part“, He warned, recalling his remarks made a few days ago in favor of raising wages for the poorest. “The challenge of the next two years is to have economic results that benefit all French people“Said the former candidate for the primary of the right and center.
The minister also hammered out the government’s will to “refound global capitalism“. For Bruno Le Maire, “there is no reason why women should be paid less than men“And finance has”a key role to playIn the fight against global warming. “We will not give up on the issue of justice“, He said.
In addition, the head of Bercy defended the emergence of a “third way between Donald Trump and Greta Thunberg“On the climate issue, making it possible to avoid”go overboard“, By speeding up the climate transition calendar without removing”tens of thousands of jobs“. “Europe will carry this new capitalism“, He said, adding that the continent was going”take charge of your destinyBetween the Chinese and American models.